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BMC's Darren Lill together with Paris-Roubaix Champion Stuart O'Grady (Foto by Tim De Waele)
BMC's Darren Lill together with Paris-Roubaix Champion Stuart O'Grady (Foto by Tim De Waele)

Capping off a successful Tour de Suisse for BMC, Darren Lill finds his way into another long breakaway

23. June 2008


Sunday’s final stage of the Tour of Switzerland traced its way from Altdorf, the town which served as the starting point for the Klausenpass climb, back to the Bern city center 168 rolling kilometers away.

Though there was hardly a completely flat section of road in the entire day, there was every expectation that this day should provide the stomping ground for the remaining sprinters in the race.  However, the undulating parcours also served as a prime opportunity for a breakaway group which BMC was happy to join.

Sprinter’s teams desperate to keep the break close

“Since we don’t have a dominating sprinting card, we had to be represented in the break and gamble on that working,” Gavin Chilcott said.  “There were two early breaks that went away, both contained Alex Moos and Martin Kohler, which would have been very interesting for us if they had succeeded in establishing a good lead, but some other teams did the maths and didn’t want to let those breaks get established.”  Even when a break was allowed to get a little daylight between itself and the pack, they were still given very little leeway.  “Finally one break was allowed to go and that contained Darren Lill for us, which was the next best thing,” Chilcott explained.  “But even that one was never given much of a leash.”  Perhaps chaffing still from having a golden bunch sprint opportunity stolen from them on Friday, the sprinter’s teams kept the pace high, never allowing the dangerous break which contained Darren Lill and four other riders too much rope.  “There were still some teams interested in getting the final few King of the Mountain points, so as with the stage from Friday, the peloton was working to bring the break back before that final climb in the race,” Chilcott reasoned. “Today the group was racing all out,” Danilo Wyss reported.  “That is evidenced by the fact that the break never got more than 4 minutes, proof we were going very fast.”  The day’s heat also played a factor in the racing, making for very thirsty riders at the finish of the stage.  “It was very difficult for me,” Wyss continued, “and I am very dry now!”  However in foiling any chance for the escape group to succeed, those keen for a sprint finish also facilitated another impressive display from Fabian Cancellara who attacked with under a kilometer to go, catching a tiring Phillip Gilbert, and taking his second stage in three days.  “It was a shifting, narrow finishing circuit with hills and cobbled sections, which made for an exciting finish,” Chilcott said.  “Cancellara was a favourite going into the stage and certainly delivered an amazing performance.”

Strong team performance portends optimistic future for BMC

“It’s always this time of year that deals start being made for the coming seasons, and we are encouraged because there is a lot of interest in the team,” Chilcott said.  “Overall we had a successful week where we were visible in a break nearly everyday.”  The main disappointment for the management was the injury which prevented a very in-form Jonathan Garcia from finishing the stage race.  “What was most disappointing for me was that Jonathan wasn’t able to finish the race, as he is obviously a guy who belonged here, and was riding very strongly in spite of his crash,” Chilcott said.  “But it was nice to see the riders on our team, particularly the young ones, step up to this ProTour level and take responsibility for the unfolding of the race.”  Not only are the racers gaining a foothold in the extremely high sporting level, the support side of the team is also smoothing out their performance.  “The operations side of the team is also working well and providing solid support,” Chilcott explained.  “We are getting even more organized and more prepared, learning how to cope with the transatlantic racing schedule we have this year.”  If not quite all the team’s goals were met this Tour de Suisse, it will just leave the riders and management more hungry to succeed in next year’s edition. “It would have been nice to have a rider in the top 10,” Chilcott said.  “Alex was really our only option for that accomplishment, and that is a lot of pressure to put on one rider; Alex handles the pressure really well, but the level of racing in Switzerland was so high, only a three week grand tour would have been more challenging.”